NaNoWriMo 2018 Debrief // What helped & what didn’t

Hello everyone!

How is it going? I am very barely alive… BUT (and it’s a very big but!!!)


Hahaha yes! November was a crazy hectic month, in terms of writing, work, and life. (Unfortunately life doesn’t pause just because of a little huge writing challenge, right!?) In addition to starting my WIP Never Forget, I also had a few busy weeks at work, travelled to Toronto to see family/friends, and visited a family member in hospital (no worries, he is back to good health now!) So in short, I have no idea how I managed this month… but I did :’D

If you are curious about my week-by-week progress, feel free to check out some of the NaNoWriMo Check-In posts from earlier on this month:

The Final Word Count & The Graph

So…… Here are my final Nano stats:

Yup, I wrote 77K words this month, which I’m sure is probably the most that I’ve ever written in a single month, EVER. And I am SUPER proud that I was able to accomplish this (and still in disbelief that I somehow managed to finish 50K, never mind more than 70K!!)

My second goal for Nanowrimo was to finish my novel, which I realized towards the end of November that was NOT going to happen haha. I am about ~70% through Never Forget, and I do expect that I have about 30K remaining. #DecemberGoals!!!

Reflecting on This Month

During one of my earlier check-in posts, I wrote about things that were working and things that weren’t, which you guys liked. I thought that now would be a good time to reflect again on these things πŸ™‚

What worked & helped me succeed

(1) PLANNING was ESSENTIAL for me this November. Because I knew that writing 1667+ words per day would be very difficult on my usual schedule, I’ve made several changes to my daily routine:

  • Reduced blogging frequency to 1 post/week
  • Writing during my morning commute
  • Cleared my November TBR (……… yup I read zero books this November LOL)
  • 1-hour morning writing sessions before work

(2) Having an OUTLINE prior to beginning Nanowrimo was a godsend. I was glad to have figured out my characters, world building, major plot points, and the list of scenes beforehand. This way, when I was sitting down to write, I was not spending precious time trying to resolve plot issues, I was actually WRITING.

(3) I was doubtful about MORNING WRITING SESSIONS before, because I wasn’t sure how awake and productive I am at 7AM. However it soon became part of my morning routine to sit down at a cafe right before work and get some writing done. I loved being able to knock out 1000-1600 words before I even begin my day. I also loved that by the time I’d written for an hour, I was SO awake and pumped to begin the day.

(4) I also tried WRITING BY HAND for the first time! It was counter-intuitive, but I learned that I actually wrote faster because I didn’t spend as much time editing as when I wrote on my laptop. After writing a few pages by hand every morning, I spent the evenings transcribing my words onto my laptop.

(5) Where would I be if not for TEA?! During November, I drank a gazillion cups a day. Needless to say, my coffee/tea expenditure exploded this month haha…….

(6) One aspect that I loved SO much about Nanowrimo this year was INTERACTING WITH THE COMMUNITY! I have mentioned before that I used to be the “hole up in my own universe and write” type, and I worried that spending time on social media/chat groups would slow me down, but in reality the reverse was true. Being around other writers, whether it was on the blogosphere, WhatsApp groups, or in person, motivated me to keep going when I was tired or discouraged. Thank you to everyone who offered words of encouragement this month (you know who you all are!!!)

What had a neutral effect or made NaNo more difficult

(Unfortunately not all these things are amenable to change hahahaha….)

(1) As much as I enjoy what I do, my FULL-TIME DAY JOB made it hard to write every day, as you guys can imagine!

(2) I never say “no” to SOCIAL EVENTS because of writing, and in general I love getting together with friends who cheer me up and help me put things in perspective. However, being an introvert, I am always so exhausted after a meet-up. My brain gets numb and I literally have word-finding difficulties hahaha :’)

(3) Earlier on I wrote that I enjoyed my first few WRITE-IN experiences, which was true. However I realized that it took time for me to physically get to the location, and the times didn’t always work with my schedule. Later on, I also attended a write-in that was distracting because of the amount of chatting that went on (it was a weekday night and I was there to write!!!!)

(4) At the beginning of the month, I started a NANO JOURNAL, which was fun when it lasted, but later on it became just another thing to get done on a busy day so… I soon fell off the wagon hahahaha :’)

Now What?!

Since I am not yet finished my novel, I am aiming to ride on the momentum of Nanowrimo and finish the last ~30K words of Never Forget in December.

I am also hoping to catch up on many things I missed out on this past month such reading and blogging (both of which I miss so much!!!) There are also aspects of my life that I’ve put on hold in November which I must now confront (wedding planning and Christmas preparationeek!!!!)

How was your November? If you were one of the Nano’ers this past month, what worked and what didn’t? Any December goals!?

50 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2018 Debrief // What helped & what didn’t

  1. Cecelia says:

    DANG not only did you win nano but you killed it!!! Congrats! You also have some great insight and advice for writing habits! Might have to steal your write for an hour in the AM idea….. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marie says:

    Congratulations on NaNo, Sophie, you did so well, I’m so proud and happy for you! ❀ ❀ I'm glad that outlining helped and that you managed to write so much even in the mornings, I admire that SO much just as well ❀
    As you know, I won NaNo and…. I haven't opened my Word doc since then….. I still have 30k to go and know I won't be able to finish it in December because of work, but hopefully I'll manage to early 2019? Fingers crossed!
    Happy writing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Marie! Thank you so much for your encouragement ❀ I am so happy with how this year went πŸ™‚
      Sounds like it is a hectic time for you! If there is a lot going on, it makes sense to put writing aside and come back to it later. Writing 50K in a month takes a lot of work and dedication and you deserve a bit of a break πŸ™‚ (Congrats again on nano!!!)
      These days I’ve been busy with work and life as well, and my momentum is slowing down quite a bit compared to November haha. I am still hoping to finish this month but we will see πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Wow you were on a serious roll when it came to NaNo Sophie! πŸ˜€ ❀ Congratulations on winning, based on your word counts and your progress it was a very well deserved win. I'm honestly in awe over how much you wrote and considering what you have written getting that last 30% of Never Forget down in December should be easy. πŸ™‚
    I will be bookmarking this post for next year. I failed at NaNo this year but I am determined to keep writing and determined to win again next year. You're going to be my inspiration for NaNo 2019.
    Great post, and happy writing (also happy reading and blogging if you're going to be catching up this month). πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Beth ❀ πŸ™‚ I am super happy that Nano worked out well for me! However now that November is over and lots of other things started popping up, writing has been taking a backseat haha. I hope to write more this weekend though πŸ™‚
      I don’t think you’ve β€œfailed” Nanowrimo!!! Last I remembered you wrote more than 20K which is really awesome! πŸ™‚ People write at different speeds, and have different circumstances and different amount of time to dedicate to writing. It would be unfair to say that only those who write a certain number of words a day are β€œwinners”! It sounded like November was a tough month for you, so I think that it is great that you’ve written the amount that you did.
      Thank you Beth ❀ I started reading again (yay!) Right now I am tackling The Raven Boys which is quite interesting so far πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀️ Yeah I know the feeling. I’m in a rush to catch up on my reading and blogging before the end of the year so writing is taking a backseat for me into 2019.
        Thanks Sophie, yeah I got just over 22k words written this time around which is better than I think I expected given my general mood on November. Yeah that’s a good way of looking at it. I guess given everything else we all have going on in our lives anything we wrote is an achievement. Plus like you said we all have different speeds when it comes to our WIPs.
        That’s all right. πŸ™‚ ❀️

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Yes it is catch up time haha πŸ™‚ I think sometimes we should be kind to ourselves and accept that we’ve already done our very best. Here’s a big hug and a pat on the back for you, for a job well done this November πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Caro @ bookcheshirecat says:

    Omg Congrats on winning NaNo!! β˜ΊοΈπŸŽ‰ I really loved reading all your update posts! I gladly made it to 50K as well πŸ˜„

    I loved reading about what worked and what didn’t for you during NaNo: Planning and an Outline are both really important for me as well! Good luck with your writing in December! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Thank you Caro ❀ Yes I saw that you also made it to 50K! Congrats!!!
      Planning and outlining were definitely super helpful for me this year. Glad that these things helped you too!!
      I remember you mentioned you are in the outlining stage. Are you going to continue outlining this month? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. D. A. Smith Writes says:

    I understand the feels. Writing + Full-Time Non-Writing Job = I Just Want to WRITE! Wahhh! Great post, I think my equation above explains the struggle and joys that come with being a writer. Hope you have fun wedding planning!!! (whether it is for you or a family member πŸ˜€ )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Haha yes! Your equation sums things up quite nicely!! I definitely feel like the amount of writing I get done is proportional to the free time that I have haha πŸ™‚ Thank you! It is actually my own wedding that I will be planning for next summer!


  6. meandinkblog says:

    Congratulations, what an achievement!! πŸ’› November sounded like a hectic month for you and that you managed to fit in so much writing time is amazing. It is good use of managing time– I need to get better at that πŸ˜‚ and you have a full time job (by the way I love the Simpson gif you used with that- so funny!)
    And not reading can be helpful and make me more productive. I remember when studying for school I used to stop reading. It was hard but necessary otherwise I am just like one more chapter will be fine πŸ˜‚ it’s always nice to start a book after you haven’t read for a while… it’s like ahh… home again 😊
    I am glad the writing community encouraged you to write more– that definitely provide support and motivation!! 😊
    Good luck with Christmas preparation and wedding preparations πŸ’›

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Aww thank you for your kind words as always πŸ™‚
      Yes time management is hard! I like to set goals for myself, and whenever I have free time, I remind myself to work harder towards these goals πŸ™‚ It is important to give ourselves some time to relax and unwind as well!
      Back when I was in school, I did pretty much no reading or writing haha. It would be super hard to manage that all at once πŸ™‚
      Yes it is nice to get back to reading again!
      Thank you so much ❀ Wishing you a wonderful December as well!

      Liked by 1 person

      • meandinkblog says:

        You’re always welcome 😊
        Yeah setting goals is really helpful. I have only just started using it and it has been good. That’s true– always need a good rest!!
        Yes it would– school takes up everything haha πŸ˜‚
        Thank you πŸ’›

        Liked by 1 person

  7. haidanwrites says:

    Congratulations (even though it’s super late to say it)! That is a loooot of words. Glad to hear you had both a productive month as well as a great time interacting with the community. It was great meeting up and seeing you beyond the screen πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hahaha you already said congrats to me way earlier on Haidan, so no worries πŸ˜€
      It was definitely awesome to meet up with you and Sieran in person! We should do that again some time haha πŸ™‚
      How is the editing going?!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie Li says:

        Okay πŸ˜€ It probably won’t be until sometime next year but I’ll keep you guys posted!
        Hooray that you’ve finished an assignment! Best of luck with the editing πŸ˜€
        Writing has been going pretty slowly with me since the beginning of December, however I am hoping to write more on the weekends πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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